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75 Years and Counting: The Story of the 1975 Cleveland Indians

The Frank Robinson Era

Sports Contributor Archive 2019 Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hello everyone! I apologize for the brief hiatus from the series last week. Rest assured we will be continuing up through the bitter end here. I was tending to a wife and baby that were under the weather as well as finishing up three term papers for school last week, so needless to say things got away from me. Huge thanks to the rest of the writing staff, particularly Quincy, who kept the lights on in my absence.

Anyway, 1975. Hot damn they were mediocre.

The 1975 season is known primarily as the season that Frank Robinson broke the managerial color barrier in baseball. Robinson, one of the greatest players in the game’s history, had been acquired by Cleveland late in the ‘74 season, and though his playing career was winding down the Indians named him manager prior to the 1975 season. Robinson remained active as a player and became one of the last player managers in MLB history. His most notable moment as Cleveland manager was calling his own number on opening day and swatting a solo home run in his first at bat.

As a team though the Indians were just average. Their offense was average, their pitching a little below average, and they finished a game below .500. Gaylord Perry and Jim Perry were beginning to show their age. Jim played his way out of the rotation whereas Gaylord had an average year (by league standards, not his) and was traded midseason.

The notable players, however, from the ‘75 team was a pair of rookies, Rick Manning and Dennis Eckersley. Manning and Eck had tremendous rookie campaigns. Manning hit .285 and played excellent defense in center whereas Eckersley pitched to a 2.60 ERA and was blossoming into one of the brightest young stars in baseball. At the time they were the best of friends, but as we all know by now that wouldn’t last. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there but for now let’s just say that there was some drama between the two of them that felt like it belonged more in a telenovela than a baseball club.

1975 was just like every other year in the 70’s, they were below average to average, they had a couple young players who wouldn’t actually last here, and it never felt like they were able to build on what little success they could find. I’d say we’ll get ‘em next year, but by now you and I both know that’s not true.

Not a lot else that was really notable from the year. Every time I look back on these teams I’m reminded of that time in 2001 when they did the “100 Greatest Players in Cleveland Indians’ History” for the franchise’s 100th season. It was always funny to me how many players in that they had to wildly stretch to make them seem like they were worthy of being included in that list, and the stats they’d use to justify it would always be hilarious to me.

Not to knock Pat Tabler or anything, but I don’t know that the franchise realizes that saying he had a .500 batting average with the bases loaded isn’t the flex that they think it is.

Anyway, join us tomorrow as we break down the ‘76 season.